House Republicans prepare to counter Democrats' priorities with new bills

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(WASHINGTON) — House Republican Whip Steve Scalise sent a letter to his colleagues Friday outlining the party’s legislative agenda once it takes over the chamber in the new year.

Scalise, who has been elected to become the next House majority leader, laid out a handful of bills that will be brought to the floor in the first two weeks of the next Congress — many of which would counter the work done by Democrats over the past four years.

“The American people spoke on November 8th and decided it was time for a new direction,” Scalise wrote.

“The last two years have been tough on hard-working families as they have grappled with drastic increases in the cost of living, safety concerns with violent crime skyrocketing in our communities, soaring gas and home heating prices, and a worsening crisis at our Southern border,” he added.

The list of legislation includes a bill to rescind billions of dollars allocated for the Internal Revenue Service in the Inflation Reduction Act, which Democrats passed with zero Republican support.

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Republicans assert the funding will result in the hiring of 87,000 IRS agents to target middle-income families, which the Treasury Department has said is not the case. Democrats said the money is needed to modernize the agency and replace a retiring workforce.

Another bill to be brought forward by the GOP would make permanent the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old provision that has banned federal funding for most abortions. President Joe Biden supported the amendment for years but reversed his position in 2019 and Democrats tried to get rid of the provision in a spending bill last year but the effort failed.

According to Scalise, the GOP will also bring forward separate legislation to establish a China select committee, block “non-emergency” drawdowns from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and give the Department of Homeland Security secretary power to turn away migrants at the border absent “operational control.”

While Republicans are set to take back control of the House for the first time since 2018 next week, many of the measures are likely to face an uphill in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

In the letter, Scalise also encouraged his colleagues to vote for Rep. Kevin McCarthy for speaker on Jan. 3.

McCarthy’s bid to become the chamber’s leader has been complicated by opposition from a group of hard-line conservatives who say the California congressman isn’t doing enough to push back against Democrats, especially after the GOP’s disappointing performance in the midterm elections.

Official business in the House, including establishing committees, holding votes and seating members, will not be able to start until a new speaker is elected.

Scalise told his colleagues that he recognizes that it will take time for committees to get established in the new Congress, but said the bills that he plans to bring forward first are “ready-to-go” legislation.

“These commonsense measures will address challenges facing hard- working families on issues ranging from energy, inflation, border security, life, taxpayer protection, and more,” the congressman wrote. “They should garner wide support and provide an indication of our bold agenda to come.”

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